In order, to get the most out of your new suit, you'll need to take good care of it. You should treat your suit like an expensive piece of clothing and remember to practice common sense. Over the course of your suit's life, it will experience some normal wear and tear, but you can take easy preventative steps in order to keep it looking like new!
In order to maintain a clean, well-kept suit, you should acquire the following items and always keep them handy, especially at conventions: a pocket comb or Cat brush with plastic nubs on the ends, a slicker/hard wire brush, some form of antibacterial spray/disinfectant (fur suit spay), dryer sheets, and a spot cleaner. You may also want to consider a "fur suit emergency kit," which includes needle and thread, and perhaps a small glue gun and glue sticks.
Always spot-clean your suit after each use and brush out the fur thoroughly. Extended use or handing will result in the fur getting "matty;" this is normal. The solution is to brush out the fur to restore that sleeker, softer look. Remember to spray the interior of your fur suit head after each use (after you are sure you are done suiting for the day) with a preferred antibacterial spray*. Never spray the interior right before suiting, as the inside will remain moist and the smell may aggravate your nose and eyes. You may also want to first dab some of the spray on your arm or leg to make sure you do not have an allergic reaction. After spraying down the interior of the head, be sure to turn it upside down to increase the air flow and ventilation, which will help it dry faster. You should also spray the interior of your feet paws to make sure they stay fresh and clean. Fans are great help for a faster drying process!
Cleaning bodysuits and polyfill tails (items that have no glue, only stitching): These items may be washed in the washing machine using cold water on a gentle cycle. Always be sure to turn the item inside out first. Polyfill tails may be washed with cold water on gentle, though this is not always necessary. Do NOT put these items into a dryer! While some dryers can be set to cold/air fluff/no heat, there is a chance some heat may still be emitted, in which case you run the risk of the fur matting (which is nearly irreversible). Instead, a safer alternative would be to hang-dry your piece in front of a fan. Be sure the piece is not "dripping wet" when it is hung to avoid any stretching that may occur due to the weight of the water pulling the suit down. Gentle ringing of areas prior to hanging the piece will help, or gentle towel-drying.
Cleaning heads, hands, feet, and foam/wire-based tails (items that have been glued in certain areas): These items must never be submerged in water for long periods and should instead be spot-cleaned and sprayed with disinfectant after each use (except for tails). A popular cleaner used by both fur suit makers and fur suiters is "Teddy Bear Cleaner," which is available for purchase at www.crscraft.com. Mild or gentle soaps may also be used. Towel-dry any wet areas after washing and be sure to allow ample air ventilation for pieces that require additional drying. NEVER place these items in a dryer. OR EVER LEAVE IN A HEAT EXPOSED CONTAINER OR TUB!!! You can place pillow padding and hands into pillow sacks for extra protection prior to washing. As far as detergents go, you’ll want something mild and color safe! We personally have always used Arm and Hammer powder detergent, as we find they are more consistent and safer. We have always halved the written labeled amount on the box.
When storing a fur suit (or pieces), it is best to choose a large storage bin or other sturdy, water-proof container. Rubbermaid makes a variety of bins in varying sizes at affordable prices, so pick up something that's within your range and fits your needs. Air-tight lids work best at preventing water, insects, and pets from finding your suit. The location in which the container is stored should be cool and dry. Basements and attics are not recommended, but if there are no other options, the cooler choice would be best. Placing a dryer sheet inside of the head, feet, and hands will help remove any moisture that may form, as well as keep these pieces smelling fresh. Be sure your suit or suit parts have dried from sweat or moisture before storing. This is very important! If you don’t you risk the fur creasing. Always take your suit out once and a while to check on it. When storing heads, we prefer our sit them out in a closet, If you must put them into a tub be sure to make sure you’re not folding or squishing anything! You could cause irrecoverable damage to your suit!
Do not force your pieces to fit inside of luggage or travel bins. Heads should be treated with care and not "mushed" or flattened to try and fit into a smaller container. Buy containers that are of an appropriate size for both airline traveling and for fitting all of your pieces comfortably. You should follow the same rules and guidelines for "storing your pieces" when you travel. Be sure to thoroughly label any boxes/cases that are traveling with you, just in case they are lost in transit. Include your name, address, and telephone number clearly written on protected tags and labels. Remember to secure all of your pieces in a manner that can withstand your traveling container being tossed around and handled roughly (perhaps use a towel or blanket to act as "padding" in case things get bumpy).